The most impressive thing about the Duke-UNC rivalry is that, despite the tensions, for the most part things stay pretty level between the players.
Not to say there haven’t been moments. The classic moment was the 1961 brawl between Art Heyman (mostly) and UNC.
Heyman was buried under Tar Heels and at some point, when he got free, he claims he slugged Frank McGuire in the nuts. Years later, he gleefully said that he ran into McGuire and he said, “it still hurts, Artie.”
There were major repercussions from that, both for the rest of the season and for the intensity of the Duke-UNC rivalry, which went thermonuclear.
There have been a few incidents over the years, but it’s remarkable just how few given, again, how intense the rivalry is.
But there was the Henderson-Hansbrough incident.
Tyler Hansbrough dominated Duke when he was at UNC and in 2007, UNC racked up a fairly easy win in the Dean Dome. With 15 seconds left, the Heels were up 82-74 and Hansbrough was at the foul line.
He missed but got the rebound.
He had no way to know this, but in the Duke huddle, Mike Krzyzewski, always competitive and proud, told his team that the game was lost but he still wanted them to play hard and to compete: “no layups,” he said.
When Hansbrough missed, he got the board and Gerald Henderson flew in.
There’s no point in trying to convince anyone of anything at this point. Most people made up their minds on this one long ago.
We’ll only say this: Henderson came in with his eyes closed, expecting contact, and simultaneously, walk-on Steve Johnson went up and knocked the ball loose and also kept Hansbrough from going up (no layups!).
In other words, Henderson, who turned his face away to presumably protect it, went up expecting Hansbrough to be in the air. Clearly he planned for a major physical play. Just not in Hansbrough’s face, or to leave him with a significant injury that required surgery.
Years later, Henderson told Hansbrough that his eyes were closed and that while he came in to be physical, and expected to hit something, he didn't realize where Hansbrough’s face was.
The two of them put it behind them after some years and became more or less friends. Duke and UNC fans?
That’ll take longer.
Small cameo here for slim Duke freshman Jon Scheyer, who is smart enough to stay away from the contact.